Eyes open

Year 7 students of Abedeen Academy putting their presentation skills into practice

I came across an article in The Star yesterday, 2nd July 2017: The Trenglish way to better English.

Short for Transforming English is Terengganu, it warmed my heart to know that the Terengganu government have take necessary steps to help students in that state better their English proficiency. The percentage of students passing their English examination at SPM level has increased. It is still in its early stages so only several schools have been targeted. The article mentioned about possible efforts to expand the programme to other schools. I for one, hope this becomes a reality. 

But that was not what caught my attention.

The state has hired graduates in English from local public institutions of higher learning to teach, focusing on Forms 3, 4 and 5 students.

This. This melted me. This is precisely what our students with poor English need. I wrote about this once. About looking inside; looking for talents in the country to change the fate of English among Malaysian students.

Students with poor English are highly likely to struggle with the language. They struggle to understand it. Imagine having to speak it.

Which is why locals, with a profound command of the language are the best people to be in front helping these students.  As locals, we understand the culture, issues, problems, struggles. We understand their and most importantly, we can speak their dialect.

More often than not, in order to get their trust in building their confidence, we need to speak English in their dialect and intonation first. Translations are required for them to grasp concepts. We use neutral pronunciations and break the syllables down just so they understand. Once they understand, we step it up a notch and teach them the correct pronunciation and intonation. It’s progressive and it’s a process.

If we want them to understand and accept English, we must understand and accept them first. That is why Trenglish is a success.

I for one, believe that Trenglish worked and will continue to work because it uses local profound talent instead of paying millions of ringgit on native speakers who further confuse our already struggling students with the speed and variety of accents. These people are important, for those who are proficient and want to learn the language at a higher level.

I’ll be keeping tabs on Trenglish, for sure. And I hope more and more students from the east coast of Malaysia grow to excel in English for a better future.

Teaching in an international school, I am helping foreign students learn English. While some of them have mastered the language, some struggle, just like the locals. And I have come to realize that when I speak English with a neutral pronunciation and intonation, they are more receptive. Once they get the hang of it, I add the intonation and correct pronunciation. Works like a charm 🙂

**Read more on Trenglish at http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/on-the-beat/2017/07/02/the-trenglish-way-to-better-english-terengganu-is-dead-serious-in-addressing-the-languages-decline-a/#astYhyojIfkJDMOj.99



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